Why has the West advanced while islam has, at best, remained static as a culture and society since its inception in the Dark Ages?
(Yes, islam rose for centuries and gave the world algebra, and significant art and architecture. When muslims, however, allowed their religion to be captured by its fundamentalist wing, it began what has become a centuries-long decline into a barbarism perhaps more savage than its beginnings. Fundamentalist Christians take note.)
Two primary reasons exist for islam’s decline, the most important of which was and is its rejection of literacy.
The ubiquitous television does not require literacy and can not communicate learning. But it does communicate knowledge of living standards. It is the absence of Western living standards that drives rioting from South Central to Paris to Gaza.
Literacy communicates learning. The lack of learning is driving the beheading of children in Iraq.
Had those outside Wittenberg not been literate, Luther’s 95 theses would have been irrelevant. Had the West not valued general – i.e. non-theological – literacy and knowledge, the only opinion and understanding within the West today would be exactly as in Islam: theocratic.
Muslim autocrats, from emirs and kings ignoring the education of their subjects, to local imams and fathers prohibiting literacy to girls, reject the learning progress requires.
Why? Because educating their people would challenge their authority.
Muslim states can afford literacy programs but reject them. They have seen the impact of general literacy on a formerly-theocratic Christian West and its rulers: the Enlightenment, the destruction of monarchies, the reduction in the importance of religion, the rise of democratic self-government and civil – and human – rights.
The loss of religious authority for the power structure, which in illiterate cultures only can be replaced by another theocracy, mob rule and new tyranny, is anathema to current rulers.
As religious authority and social rules decline in a society, another way of organizing that society will fill the vacuum.
In the West, the filling of this vacuum with civil law rather than another theocracy also was due to a single verse in the New Testament; a theological permission to pre-Enlightenment people to pursue governance outside of and separate from theology.
It is this that is the most important difference between Christianity & Islam: Luke 20:25: Give to Caesar that which is Caesars and to God that which is God’s.
This is the separation of church and state. This allows the rule of law. This is the basis for the scientific revolution.
This is the basis for all of modernity.
This concept is entirely alien to islam, and Islam is in violent opposition to it.
A premodern culture using religion to explain what science yet cannot, but lacking religious permission to explore governance outside their religion has no way to organize society outside of their religion as interpreted by those few who can read, and who will have an agenda of their own, as do all in power. Early Christianity provided this permission, setting the stage for the rise of the West.
If a society can read and can explore governance outside theology, it will advance. The West proves this.
If a society cannot read and cannot explore governance outside theology, it will not advance. Islam proves this.
Why has Islam not advanced? Because its rulers and culture have rejected literacy and lack a separation between civil and theocratic authority.
What is the price of an illiterate and pre-modern islam? Children beheaded and having bombs strapped to them by their parents. Girls being burned to death rather than rescued and being seen without their veil. Rape victims executed in [dis]honor murders. Acid thrown in the faces of girls seeking an education. Hundreds of millions of women imprisoned by their husbands and culture. The loss of a billion minds to human progress.
Islam CAN not advance without literacy. Islam WILL not advance without a decrease in theological authority and concurrent increase in civil authority.
Which leaves the primary, unanswered and perhaps unanswerable question: CAN islam modernize?
The past 35 years would indicate it cannot.
And, if not, what should – must – the civilized world do in the face of the threat to modernity that islam has become?
Whether or not Islam can advance, however, is less important than this:
How long will the West continue the greatest moral failure in our 2,000-year history: allowing the inhuman barbarism of shariah to continue and advance?